Monday, November 09, 2009

Viewing the stunning new Lake Wingra Dam on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in November

The construction that has been going on the last few months in Vilas Park at the Lake Wingra outlet to Wingra Creek is finished, and the resulting new Lake Wingra Dam is a real beauty. In the place of the former dumpy little structure built a century ago, the new dam arcs around in a graceful concrete semicircle. As you can see in the little video clip, the dam creates a natural amphitheater that seems to amplify the sound of rushing water for observers on the sleekly geometric observation deck and fishing platform. The concrete lip of the dam has been rounded to make it easier for spawning muskies to leap over, and it should be quite a sight -- with a much better angle of view for observers -- next spring. The City Engineering website has more information about the dam, its history, planning and design.

Gorgeous New Lake Wingra Dam on a Gorgeous November DayThese runners were looking it over Sunday afternoon. The weekend was a great time to view the new structure. The construction fences are finally gone. And as the runners' gear attests, the high temperature both Saturday and Sunday was 71°F. The weather was absolutely surreal. As T said, it was like stolen time. Everywhere you went this weekend, people flashed each other mischievous, conspiratorial smiles. We all knew we were getting away with something we weren't really entitled to.


Cheezman said...

I'll look forward to your photo of a musky in mid-leap! This dam and its predecessor makes me wonder about the history of Lake Wingra. I'm guessing that before the dam, the "lake" must have been a marsh, with little open water and well on its way to succeeding to prairie. I've never read anything about this possible state, however. Nor have I read anything about the reason a dam was built in the first place.

I'm guessing you've read Stuart Levitan's excellent history of Madison up until 1931. I remember no mention of the Wingra ecosystem in that book. I wonder though when Volume 2 is due out?

Good shooting. I'm writing this on an overcast, rainy and cold day in Munich and envy the 71 sunny degrees.

Bill said...

Read the definitive descriptions of Lake Wingra in Charles E. Brown's monograph of the same name. It's available on line now.

And FWIW, when the dam design came before the Madison Parks Commission, DNR strongly advocated a fish-impassable design...ostensibly to keep carp out of Weengra. I'm very happy to see Engineering agreed with the Parks Commissioners and produced a "muskie friendly" design! We came very close to losing a Madison tradition.

Bluezy said...

I was doing my blog post on Mad City Memories...I have not been there since 1978. I was looking for a picture of the old dam. Caught many a crappie and blue gill there with my dad. I remember having to pee and going to this old brick hospital across the way alone. I was afraid I would find the door to the morgue or one of the station wagons had a corpse in it. That is a way young memory. Now a parent would let their youngin go alone to some bathroom.